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The Detroit Free Press reports on an experimental program designed to improve reading readiness in disadvantaged inner-city preschoolers. Parents are paid in cash for their involvement, to the tune of $10 per hour.Parents who participate in the program attend monthly lessons, in which they receive detailed instructions for daily work with their children in the areas of story comprehension, letter sounds, and number recognition. Each parent keeps meticulous records in order to receive $60 a month for working with the child 15 minutes a day, six days a week.
The mastermind and financier behind this pilot program is Dr. Charles Whitten, a retired distinguished professor and associate dean at Wayne State University's School of Medicine. Whitten started with two groups of Head Start students in January of this year, and provided the cash incentives and lessons to one group, but nothing to the other (control) group. According to the article, at the program's end in May,
The kids whose parents got the lessons -- and the cash -- performed better than the control group in four out of eight areas tested. There was no difference between the groups in three areas.
Next time around, Whitten wants to try the program out on kids who are not enrolled in Head Start, to see if he can replicate the results with children who may be even more ill-prepared to begin kindergarten.